Is It Safe For Skin + What To Look For

If you’re looking for propylene glycol, it won’t be long before you come across the word “antifreeze,” which, of course, sounds scary and isn’t something you want in your skin care. In the past, it even earned itself the nickname “antifreeze ingredient”. But this is a dubious statement and a very common misconception, on which we would like to stop here.

Propylene glycol and ethylene glycol are often confused but are actually structurally different ingredients. Bio-based propylene glycol is safe, not considered a carcinogen or endocrine disruptor, and what you’ll find in clean skin care products. Ethylene glycol is a carcinogen, endocrine disruptor, allergen, toxinand that’s what’s really in the antifreeze.

People often confuse glycols in general (for example, polyethylene glycol, or PEG, is another common ingredient on the “no” list). “Sometimes consumers mistakenly believe that all glycols are the same, but that’s not the case,” says a board-certified dermatologist. Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, has already told us about glycols. It’s totally understandable – the average customer shouldn’t be a chemist after all. That’s why we always recommend using clean retailers and websites to help you decipher these nuances.

Patricia J. Callender